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The rare beer trade, a cult of personalities

The rare beer trade doesn't have quite the cachet of wine futures En Primeur or a formal market unless you break it down to the sum of its parts and look to commodity stocks. However a cult of rare beer lovers has taken to the web to trade, find their rare beers and take part in exclusive brew releases like Dark Lord Day, on April 24.

Three Floyds Brewing Company sells its Dark Lord Russian Imperial stout, brewed with "Intelligentsia coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar" for one day only, this being DLD, a festival event that includes BBQ, live music, kilts and international craft beer trading and tasting under various tents in Munster, Indiana.

To attend DLD you would have had to follow 3floyds on Twitter when the company announced the sale of "Golden Tickets" on St. Patrick's Day (March 17). 4,000 tickets were available for $10. Each golden ticket allowed entry to DLD and four bottles of the special stout - plus the ability to first taste on tap Oak Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout and Vanilla Bean Dark Lord.

An attendee, Aaron, a self-admitted beer-geek from New York, told the foodie blog Chow.com on April 28, "it is a freakish culture! Have you ever seen the documentary Trekkies? Sometimes I feel like I'm part of a culture like that. My non-beer-geek friends assume I just go off to drink nice beer and get loaded. True enough, somewhat, but I feel like their minds would be blown if they got to see how truly geeky, weird, and even asocial this scene is."

That being said the beer-geeks stay connected and are the first to snap up rare beers that are generally sold within hours of being released and with the support of sites RateBeer and the Beeradvocate.com there is an online home for trade.

On February 23, Beernews.org ranked their big six list of rare beers that get the most pre-event "buzz, massive attendance at the event, and have the most requests/trading activity afterward." Test out the beer trade and see if you can find:

- Portsmouth Kate the Great
- Surly Darkness
- Russian River Pliny the Younger
- Three Floyds Dark Lord
- Foothills Sexual Chocolate
- The Bruery Black Tuesday

Remember these tips from Chow.com, RateBeer (www.ratebeer.com) doesn't allow any talk of money in their trading forum and if you are going to ship to a fellow trader contents should be labeled "yeast samples in liquid medium." Include a "surprise" - anything from a glass or sticker to a home brew.

Sources: http://www.chow.com/blog/2010/03/the-underworld-of-beer-trading